Here Ann Taylor, the Learning Programmes Officer at Stroud’s Museum in the Park, talks about the Gentle Park Walks Project.
“The project started with what we all knew was a good idea – to encourage carers and those living with dementia to get out into the fresh air, meet other people, and enjoy lovely Stratford Park.
“All these things have happened, and more. People in the group come and go, meeting in the museum courtyard when the weather is fine for a chat and a cup of tea before (and after!) the walk. Or we all sit in Reception – the tea and the talking is an important part of the morning.
“After the walk, everyone is cheerful – some transformed – by the stroll along the flower beds or through the trees. Everyone’s mood lifts, and as one lady said, ‘Today, I’ve been out with my friends’.
“Trained Fair Shares volunteers lead the walks, carefully planned to take in the lake, or a tree in flower, or a match on the tennis courts. Sometimes, if it rains, the walk is through the Museum galleries instead, and there, our staff have learned stories about some of the objects that we just didn’t know; tales of how it was to work for a certain firm, or a special day at a mill.
“Certain objects have triggered memories, and in the calm atmosphere of the Museum, we’ve heard tales from another era, stories from a long time ago when the person was young and fit.
“It is a special project, one that the Museum is glad to be part of.”